The Future of Work—Intentionality

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Home > Articles > The Future of Work—Intentionality

 The Future of Work—Intentionality

Kim Underhill | Today's Manager
June 1, 2020

Ever thought intentionality would play a part in the future of work?
Are you ready for the future of work? A common topic that is discussed often but rarely taken seriously. Reasons being many people are comfortable and pleased with their current status and preferred to stay put. As the saying goes “why fix it when it is not broken?”

Maybe you have not noticed because you are not paying attention or simply being ignorant, but the world is rapidly changing. The speed of technology, artificial intelligence, and automation may not always put people out of work, but it requires people to learn new skills and that definitely requires them to shift their mindset. The whole idea of technological advancement is to improve production and performance, not simply to replace people. Performing new tasks take time to learn and perfect, and not everybody accepts such rapid changes willingly. Therefore, my question to you is: “Do you know where you will be in three years?” If your answer is no, it is time to start clarifying your work future intentionality.

Having said that, in many cases technology and automation will have less impact when it comes to work involving management of people, using your expertise or high human interactions skills, understanding and translating social and emotional intelligence, and so forth. So think about where you are today and answer these following questions:-

  1. Will you still be in the same job for next three years? 
    • If yes, are you happy to do the same thing until you retire?
    • If no, what plans do you have in mind? What intention is in place and have you started preparing and pursuing that new role (in however many months or years)?
  2. Will the company continue to keep you in the same position, carrying out the same tasks, and yet have to keep increasing your compensation year-on-year? Will the company continue to keep you in the same position, carrying out the same tasks, and yet have to keep increasing your compensation year-on-year?
    • If yes, you need to let us know where you work… no growth expectation yet you get to keep your job, not bad.
    • If no, do you truly believe you are indispensable or irreplaceable?

With the current pandemic we see around the world and especially in Singapore, many people are uncertain if they even have a job to return to when the economy opens up again. What skills do you have that can be tapped on should you need to seek alternative employment?  For some, the thought of becoming an entrepreneur or continue to work from home (WFH) has crossed their mind now that they have experienced the joy of WFH, being independent, having the flexibility to determine the number of hours to work, and to chill every now and then etc. However, for many, it has been an agonising experience because they missed having someone to talk to, to bounce off ideas, to take occasional five-minute coffee breaks to chitchat before returning to focus on their tasks. To work alone, every day for weeks can be daunting, and trying to stay focussed and motivated are some of the key challenges. The question is how do you intend to work and play during this challenging time?

Besides working from home, what else have you been doing? I see that many have picked up cooking, painting, or sewing, so I guess that they finally have time for hobbies. But what else?   What is your intention behind all this busyness? Are you merely killing time? How many are taking up new skills intentionally to be prepared for future work transition? How many are taking advantage of this time to revisit your career, thinking about where you are today, and where you want to be? What new skills do you need in order to achieve that next level career? How are you planning your progress?

Similarly you can intentionally take this time to look at your family. How is your relationship with each of your family members? Are you making an effort to spend time to get to know them better? Finding ways to better understand what your spouse or even your teenage child/children are going through? Alternatively, are you constantly focussing on your personal needs?

This is an awesome time to rekindle personal and work plans with clear intention. What you cannot see, you cannot fix. Hence, without intentionality, you are unlikely to make any difference in your life be it personal or work.

Let me share with you my intentional transition plan that started 10 years ago, way before any sign of such a pandemic was suspected. I am currently in my mid-50s and I have been semi-retired for the last two to three years. I have intentionally planned and prepared for my transition 10 years ago while I was still a senior executive with a multinational corporation managing multimillion dollars businesses and people of global cultural background.

Today, I am a management consultant, personal mastery coach, and a professional speaker. I work from my home office and I work at my own pace with selected projects be it for profit or non-profit. The pandemic did not affect me since its onset several months ago. The reason is that my work allows me to decide whom I want to connect with anytime, anywhere, or with anyone that needs my expert advice. My main intention for such career shift was to ensure that I can continue to work for as long as I am healthy and willing. Moreover, most importantly, I am still doing what I love the most, which is developing and growing people.

Intentionality is the thinking behind our actions and the purpose behind why we do what we do. Throughout the years, I’ve seen one common behaviour in people: Many rush to take action. The minute they think about wanting something, they spring into action with little or no thought behind its intention or purpose. Many will explain, “they need, they want, and they must” do certain things. I called this the ‘busy-doing’ syndrome—always busy doing something without intention.

We need to recognise that actions are highly aligned to intentionality. I get people telling me that they want success in life. But when asked if they knew specifically in which aspect of their life that they wanted success, they provided generic answers such as ‘happiness’, ‘better job’, ‘financial freedom’, or ‘health’. Without specifics, it is impossible to see the intentionality behind all the wants to be successful.

Without intentionality, I would never be able to pursue my retirement plan, travel frequently, live the life I have dreamed of, work with non-profit organisations to help women and children, and most importantly providing a better life for my family.

It is never too late to start your intentionality plan.

Ms Kim Underhill is the founder and managing partner of Ultimate Balance Consultancy. With over 23 years of experience in the food service industry, she has held key roles at multinational commercial and manufacturing organisations—managing key accounts of Fortune 500 companies such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi Cola, Nestle, Unilever, and more. She is a highly engaged member in both business and women’s empowerment communities, the president of Daughters of Tomorrow, and the author of Success Inside Out, Challenge or Choice.


IMAGE: SHUTTERSTOCK

Copyright © 2020 Singapore Institute of Management

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Today's Manager Issue 2, 2020

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